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Work on the new community clubrooms planned for the Mallacoota Recreation Reserve has been delayed.

Construction on the $1.3 million project was due to start in February, but has been pushed back after site investigations uncovered a high number of artefacts and charcoal, which has been confirmed by carbon dating to be 3399 years old.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said members of the Mallacoota community had worked hard for a long time to get the project off the ground.

“The new Mallacoota clubrooms, with kitchen, toilets and other amenities, have received $975,000 from the Federal Government,” Mr Chester said.

“The facility will be an important community and social hub for the whole town and will be well-used by locals as well as the many thousands of visitors to the area.”

East Gippsland Shire Council undertook a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the site before works could commence. Traditional owners and archaeologists carried out the site investigation late last year.

Mayor Joe Rettino said the shire was determining whether construction methods could be modified or an alternate site could be used to eliminate or mitigate the concerns of the three traditional owner groups with an interest in the Mallacoota area.

“The shire wants to accommodate the views and concerns of the traditional owners, in keeping with our Reconciliation Action Plan, and balance these with the outcomes that the Mallacoota community is hoping to achieve with this project,” Cr Rettino said.

The traditional owner groups will have a formal opportunity to comment on the proposed development and any conditions once the management plan is lodged with Aboriginal Victoria for assessment.

The outcome of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage approval process will help to determine when construction can begin.  This is not expected to be before July.

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